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The Minnesota State Fair – known by many as “The Great Minnesota Get Together” (and sarcastically known by others as “The Great Minnesota Get Fat Together”) is underway. It is the second largest state fair in the country – eclipsed only by Texas. And, not to brag, but USA Today named it the best fair in the US in 2015.

 I’m convinced that part of its popularity is the perfect amalgam of technology, nature and nourishment. (Note, I did not say “nutrition.”) The Fair, which dates back to 1859, was initially held for the purpose of promoting state agriculture through competitive exhibitions of livestock and farm products. As a former farm girl and card-carrying member of the 4-H Club, this was an important part of my youth.

As Minnesota (and the country as a whole) evolved from predominantly agrarian to more of an industrial society, the makeup of fairs changed too.  While livestock and farm products are still very much on display, today’s fair is made up of industrial exhibits, carnival rides, entertainment and a lot of different foods on-a-stick.

In a way, my life has followed a similar trajectory. I grew up on a farm outside of New Ulm, MN, and have moved from an agriculture-focus to a technological one.  My agrarian roots, though, surface every year at the Minnesota State Fair – especially at the Miracle of Birth Center, where we fairgoers can witness the birthing of hundreds of piglets, calves, goats and lambs.

There is some impressive technology on display at the Fair too. For example, the Eco Experience, which is sponsored in part by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, inspires us to lead more sustainable lives by reducing, reusing and recycling every day.  The interactive exhibits on renewable energy, green technology, transportation, and clean air and water are fascinating. And, once again, the nonprofit Tech Dump “Phone It In" exhibit is a collection spot for old cell phones. We learn that recycling electronics helps the environment by saving energy, conserving natural resources and keeping reusable materials out of lakes, incinerators and landfills. This year, they hope to top last year’s collection of nearly a ton of e-waste in the form of old cell phones, tablets, cords, and cables.

There’s a lot to learn and love during the 12-day run of the Minnesota State Fair. Whether you go for Machinery Hill, the Princess Kay of the Milky Way butter busts, or to sink your teeth into a Twinkie-on-a-Stick, there’s something for everyone.  

It’s all Fair, and we won’t judge you.

By Cheri Beranek

A founding member of Clearfield, Inc., Cheri Beranek is considered a communications visionary. Her extensive leadership experience and unique management style combined deliver outstanding corporate performance.

Under her direction, Clearfield has recorded 10 consecutive years of profitability and posted historic gains in both the market capitalization and shareholder equity. Today, Clearfield is a multinational business with more than 250 employees and over 700 customers.